by Eric A Thomas
Photos/Submitted to The Source
Upon finishing high school, we are all faced with one question: now what? Some explore various careers, and some are fortunate to know what they want to spend their life doing. For Eric Brockhouse, it was simple. He wanted to help others.
“I knew from a very young age that I had an interest in emergency medicine,” comments Brockhouse.
“When I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to become a paramedic.” He served as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for five years and then enrolled and graduated from St. John’s Hospital’s paramedic program in Springfield.
Growing up, his mentor was Don Lowe, his next-door neighbor. Lowe ran the ambulance company in Jacksonville. At a young age, Brockhouse would spend a lot of time hanging around the ambulance shed with those who staffed the ambulance. He would do odd jobs such as wash the ambulances … but the more time he spent there, he also learned a lot about taking care of people, and so his love for emergency medicine grew.
Throughout his 36 years as a paramedic, Brockhouse has served in a variety of positions. When he began his career, he was employed at Passavant Area Hospital. While there, he was utilized in the emergency department as an ER tech when he wasn’t out on calls. “I credit this experience for developing my skills, both personal and technical, that has enhanced my career,” adds Brockhouse.
Following his time at Passavant, he worked with Carle Foundation Hospital Arrow Ambulance in Champaign. For the last 11 years, he has been employed by the City of Beardstown Ambulance as their lead paramedic. Complimenting his full-time positions, he has had the opportunity to be a volunteer member of South Jacksonville Fire Department, as well as Cornbelt Fire in Mahomet. Occasionally, Brockhouse works at Lifestar Ambulance.
When asked to reflect on his career, he mentioned a mix of challenging aspects. These included long hours, sleepless nights, physical demands, emotional demands, and the balance of work and family. “I would have to say the most challenging would be finding your ability to remain calm and think clearly in an emotionally charged environment,” he remarks. Even though there are challenges every day, there are also rewards. The biggest reward for Brockhouse is the feeling he gets by just helping people.
Brockhouse mentioned that over the years he has run into people in public that he has had the great fortune to help to a positive
outcome. When these people recognize him, they often come up to thank him for his help in their time of need. “I have also had the great privilege of delivering healthy babies in the ambulance. Helping bring a new life into the world was one of the most emotional and exciting things I have done,” he says. To enable him to achieve the best outcome possible, there seems to be better techniques and technology implemented all the time.
During the pandemic, healthcare in general went through many changes. Paramedics now wear more PPE (personal protective equipment) on every call. There have been changes in treatments for patients with breathing problems to cut down the risk of transferring the virus. Also, the sanitation procedure for ambulances underwent an overhaul.
In general, since Brockhouse began his career as a paramedic there have been many changes and most of them are driven by technology. “This technology has enabled us to communicate heart rhythms directly to receiving hospital and many times allows a patient to go directly to a cath [catheter] lab. We have also instituted technology that helps ensure we are performing high quality CPR,” he concludes.